Coca Cola continuing to make plastic bottles
Coca Cola is one of the biggest plastic producers in the world. The company produces 3 million tonnes of plastic per year, resulting in over 100 billion plastic bottles. The not-for-profit Break Free From Plastic named it the top polluter in a global audit of plastic pollution.
Well, according to Coca Cola, their customers like the lightweight bottles and resealable caps. While the company has pledged to use 50% recycled plastic in their bottles and collect the equivalent of every bottle and can that they sell – both goals to be met by 2030 – this is a long way from eliminating plastic entirely. It seems that the company has no plans to do so in the foreseeable future.
Because customers ‘like things the way they are’.
The problem with the solution
We cannot recycle our way out of the plastic crisis. This much is evident. And yet, this is what Coca Cola is pledging to do – without, in Australia, government support or the necessary infrastructure. We have written before about other issues behind plastic besides its end of life – including health problems, pollution from its initial manufacturing, and its carbon footprint. None of these will be solved by what Coca Cola is proposing.
They claim that customers like the convenience of their current design. But around the world we see instances of businesses making changes, and customers (after a bit of grumbling) follow.
When Woolworths and Coles eliminated plastic bags, staff members faced complaints and (in some cases) verbal abuse. But online, the coverage was mostly positive. And so the supermarkets (eventually) stood their ground and customers adapted.
We look at corporations in the same industry as Coca Cola. Starbucks will phase out straws by the end of this year, and will halve their waste production by 2030. Evian’s bottles will be made of 100% recycled plastic by 2025 and will be produced on carbon neutral plants. These changes will not alter the customer experience. A 100% recycled bottle is still as lightweight and resealable as a non-recycled bottle.
However, to cut out plastic completely, these companies will need to do a lot more.
Cutting out plastic does not mean switching to aluminium or glass. As Bea Perez, head of sustainability at Coca Cola, correctly says, using heavier materials will increase the company’s carbon footprint. But the technology of plant-based plastic alternatives is improving by the day, and there are now many viable options out there for a company that is serious about reducing their plastic consumption.
You know it – you’re on our website. If you want to know more about the plastic alternatives we supply, head over to our products page.
And if you think Coca Cola and other beverage companies should make a greater effort to reduce their plastic waste, give them an email or a review on their website. They think customers want things to stay they are – it’s our job to tell them differently.
Post by Tallis Baker.
Planet Friendly Packaging acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we work.